Master Strategy: Fishers Named 2016 Community of the Year

“Fishers could have stayed nothing more than what it was when I moved there in 1995: a nice place to live with lovely vinyl apartments. But it’s not that (today). And that’s not an accident; it got there with a strong plan,” declares John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne.

No matter who you talk to – business leaders, local officials or longtime residents – they all cite adopting the vision in recent years to become a “smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city” as the turning point for Fishers. They credit Mayor Scott Fadness for instilling that, with the backing of the city council.

What’s followed is quite the transformation.

Major economic announcements are the new norm, not the exception. Innovation is now synonymous with the fast-growing locale.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in the last several years in business attraction and expansion. It boasts an impressive entrepreneurial spirit thanks to Launch Fishers, the largest collaborative co-working space in the state (if not the Midwest)…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Indy Still Miles Behind on Mass Transit Compared to Other Cities

While mass transit in Central Indiana finally received a somewhat-limiting go-ahead from the Indiana General Assembly in the recently completed session, others with long-established systems are moving forward.

A recent Governing article noted:

  • Boston plans to extend weekend transit service until 3 a.m. Young professionals gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the longer hours for subways, light rail, streetcars and buses.

And here, it took three years to get state permission to have a local referendum to approve a system that would likely only include some faster buses (light rail not allowed). Just saying that despite Indiana being a great place to live, we’re way, way behind on this amenity.

  • London plans 24-hour weekend service on some subway lines in 2015. Chicago, New York and Philadelphia already do the same.

Why is this so important? The article notes: “As young professionals, many of whom are car-free, seek out vibrant cities in which to live and work, this is seen as a way to attract them. … Transit at all times ensures that mobility is available to everyone.”

Holiday Cheers: Conner Prairie Introduces Dec. 12 Event for Adults

Get into the holiday spirit at Conner Prairie’s brand-new, adults-only event, “Holiday Cheers,” presented by the Conner Prairie Horizon Council, the organization’s young professionals group.

Holiday Cheers offers an elegant evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine and craft beer. After enjoying food and drinks, guests will be invited to take an evening candlelit stroll through 1836 Prairietown to experience how various holidays were celebrated in the past.

Savor food from Bistro 226, wines from Douglas Hills, craft beer from Sun King and outside, a sampling of sausage from Smoking Goose, all while networking and enjoying the company of other guests.

Holiday Cheers runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12. The outdoor candlelit experience is open from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Visitors can sample beer from Union Brewing Company, participate in sausage-making demonstrations from 1836, live it up during the party at the Campbell home, and discover the different cultures and traditions of holiday cheer in the 19th century.

Back inside, guests can explore Conner Prairie’s Create.Connect exhibit that features hands-on, interactive fun for all ages centered on electricity, motion and energy. Guests will also enjoy strolling through Gingerbread Village as they marvel at the gingerbread creations from professionals and novices alike.

To memorialize the experience, a free photo booth – complete with props and festive costumes – will bring friends, old and new, together in laughter.

Canned Food Drive
Bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to be entered into a raffle contest to win a two tickets to Conner Prairie’s Hearthside Suppers. Hearthside Suppers offers guests the unique opportunity to help make and enjoy a multiple-course 19th-century meal. The prize is worth more than $120. All proceeds from the canned food drive will benefit Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, Inc.

How to Participate
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased online. Tickets will also be available at the door but space is limited, so purchase your tickets in advance. For more information, call (317) 776-6006, email horizon@connerprairie.org, visit connerprairie.org, like Conner Prairie and the Horizon Council on Facebook or follow on Twitter @ConnerPrairie with hashtag #HolidayCheersCP.

Beer Lovers: Conner Prairie’s History on Tap Back for Another Year

Conner Prairie’s Horizon Council (the interactive history park's young professionals group, of which I am a proud member) will host its second annual History on Tap craft beer event on Friday, May 31. Comments from attendees last year were extremely positive, and we're able to grow the event this year, as well. However, tickets will be capped at 500, so you'll want to buy early — and take advantage of the early bird pricing.

History on Tap 2013 will include:

  • Beer samples from 11 Hoosier breweries
  • A panel discussion: "Brewer Innovation: A Taste of the Past, Present & Future"
  • Craft brewing demonstration by Tuxedo Park Brewers, featuring a "Replicale"
  • An evening adventure through 1836 Prairietown
  • Food available at an additional cost for general admission tickets, included for VIP tickets
  • Discounted rate for the 1859 Balloon Voyage (weather permitting)

“We are proud to partner with Conner Prairie and award-winning, local breweries to present this signature event,” explains Robby Slaughter, Horizon Council president. “History on Tap is designed to provide an interactive experience that celebrates the rich heritage of craft beer making in Indiana and to engage a new demographic of visitors by giving them a taste of what Conner Prairie has to offer.”

Order your tickets now!

Upcoming Mass Transit Events in Central Indiana

As many of you know, the Indiana Chamber supports Indiana's mass transit bill (HB 1011). Here are some upcoming events that will help educate the public and rally support for the measure. If interested, you should attend:

Tuesday, March 26
Young Professionals Transit Forum
Location: IUPUI Library (UL 0125)
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Registration: http://youngprofessionalstransitforum.eventbrite.com
 
Wednesday, March 27
Indy Connect Now Forum
Location: Marian University
Time: 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Registration: http://indyconnectnowmarian.eventbrite.com 
 
Thursday, March 28
Hamilton County Leadership Transit Forum (HCLA & Carmel Green Initiatives)
Location: Carmel City Hall
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Registration: http://hamiltoncountyleadershiptransitforum.eventbrite.com
 
Saturday, March 30
Inagural Indiana Eco Student Summit (IUPUI)
Location: IUPUI
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
http://www.indianalivinggreen.com/indiana-eco-student-summit-promises-thoughtful-discussion-and-connections/
 
Monday, April 1
Public Town Hall with Mike Delph (IndyCAN)
Location: Pilgrim Lutheran Church of Carmel (3650 W 106th St Carmel, IN 46032)
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2115/c/9974/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=71131
 
Tuesday, April 2
Move the City: Stop Talking, Start Playing (School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI)
Location: Athenaeum
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
http://iupuispea598.eventbrite.com/#
 
Tuesday, April 9
Green Drinks Indy (Transit)
Location: Tomlinson Tap Room
Time: 6 p.m.
http://www.greendrinks.org/IN/Indianapolis
 
Monday, April 15
Northeast Indy Transit Advocacy event (with BRAG, Millersville, others)
Location: St. Matthews
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
*Stay tuned as more details come together
 

Celebrating Workplace Best Practices: FORUM Exemplifies Going the Extra Mile

The 2012 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies (70 in total) will be honored at an awards dinner at the Indiana Roof Ballroom tonight. Many practices go into creating a positive work culture – one of them is fostering teamwork and fellowship, which can be achieved many ways.

For FORUM Credit Union, a first-time honoree, that often takes the shape of giving back to the local community in Hamilton County.

An internal group, FORUM Spirit, coordinates activities and the staff votes on the charity of choice for an entire year.

They once bought a van and packed it full of supplies for the Dayspring Center (a family homeless shelter). The nine FORUM board members also contribute.

“That year, the board chipped in for 12 $100 gas cards so Dayspring would have that for every month. So when you see that from the ultimate leadership, that speaks to the employees,” shares chief operating officer Jenny Budreau.

In 2012, the charity is the Agapé Therapeutic Riding Center in Cicero, which serves approximately 200 clients per week.

Offers Anne Wiseman, vice president of human resources: “Our employees really embrace it. We can make much more of an impact if we’re focused on one group a year. Also, we want our employees to embrace our charities of choice and things that we are doing as an organization because it builds camaraderie with employees – you have a common goal.”

FORUM and its employees also spring into action when needed. When the devastating tornados hit Southern Indiana in February, those working in the call center volunteered, on company time, to a local television outlet to man the phones for the station’s fundraiser.

Enlist Now to Protect the Union at Conner Prairie!

By now, I would hope most Hoosiers have been to Conner Prairie in Fishers (an Indiana Chamber member and Indiana’s only Smithsonian affiliate) at least once. I remember when — as a fifth grader taking field trips there — my primary delight in visiting was focused on the rock candy in the gift shop. Now, as an adult, I’m happy to say that getting in touch with history is my main motivation — although I still partake in the sweeter rations found on the premises.

But beginning tomorrow, the award-winning interactive history park will turn a page in its long history, as the public is introduced to its latest (and permanent) exhibit: 1863 Civil War Journey. I’m proud to say I serve on a young professionals council for Conner Prairie, and was privy to a sneak peek of the $4.3 million project last week. To say I was impressed would be understating things.

I’ll spare you a lengthy prologue, but the exhibit tells the story of Morgan’s Raid of 1863, in which southern Indiana was invaded by the "rogue" general John Hunt Morgan and his 2,500 cavalrymen in their effort to capture the state for the Confederacy. In researching Civil War sites in the region, I actually discovered that, while we may view Morgan as a villain, Lexington, Kentucky features tours of his home, as well as a monument in his honor. And that in a city just a few hours drive from central Indiana — such a telling commentary on how perspectives in the Civil War could vary so greatly between such short distances.   

The exhibit combines live acting with visuals, videos and a remarkably interactive experience, and you simply must see it. The park’s staff has been hard at work on the promotional trail, invading Indy’s city market and gaining mentions both regionally and nationally. Ideally, the journey is for adults and children 10 years and up, and if you have a little one, they’ve also built a new playground in the area. If you’re a history buff or just a casual fan, you will get a great deal out of this. Hope to see you there — and wear yer fightin’ boots.

Making the (Regional) Connection

It’s time to tune into GLE! Not “Glee,” the pop culture phenomenon about a high school show choir. I’m referring to GLE, which stands for Get Linked Expo, a regional event bringing together business leaders from six Central Indiana counties: Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Madison and Marion.

GLE is all about one thing: connections. It will promote networking among participants (more than 1,000 people are expected to attend) and vendors (over 100 will showcase their products and services). Industries represented include technology, business services and economic development.

The Indiana Chamber is among Hoosier organizations partnering on the event. Individuals can attend for free by registering in advance. GLE will take place on November 4 at Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson from 3-7 p.m., followed by an after-hours mixer.

Take advantage of this opportunity to reach out to – and learn from – fellow Indiana businesses.

Learn more.

Snyder: Workforce Training Critical to State’s Economy

In his second guest post, Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder tackles the following topic:

  • Tell us something that not enough people know about your college or university that makes it such a special place.

Much has been written about our growth as we are the nation’s largest singly-accredited statewide community college system. But we are also the state’s largest provider of workforce training. We offer contract and short-term training to companies throughout Indiana. 
 
In many cases short-term training is what many displaced workers look to during times of a career change. We have put rapid response teams in motion in various parts of the state to provide workforce training for those who need support during those difficult times.
 
In closing, I think it is worth sharing some numbers that paint the picture of our student body:

  • Average age of 27.5
  • 25% married
  • 18% minorities
  • 39% have children (roughly 14% single parents)
  • 60% of first-time, degree-seeking students receive financial aid
  • 9,726 on food stamps
  • 74% work (37% work more than 30 hours/week)
  • 66% attend part-time
  • 39% are first generation college students
  • After six years over 40 percent of our students graduate, transfer or are still enrolled
  • School of first choice for many. 10% of recent Hamilton Country grads went to Ivy Tech

Tomorrow: Purdue’s France Córdova

Forbes: Hamilton County Most Family-friendly Place in U.S.

What do you like best about Hamilton County? The Fishers Freedom Festival? The table phones at the Noblesville Pizza King? Josh McRoberts?

Well, that debate could continue for a while. The verdict is in, however, regarding Forbes’ best place in the U.S. to raise a family and it is, in fact, our very own Hamilton County. The rankings were skewed toward areas with above par school districts, but the assessment factored in much more than that.

According to the Forbes article:

Raising a happy family requires more than just a good school system. With that in mind, we ranked the remaining counties using 10 data points: cost of living, graduation rate, standardized scores, home price, property tax rate as a percentage of median home price, percentage of homes occupied by owner, per-capita income, air quality, crime rate and commute time.

A hat tip to Hoosier Access for the initial post on this.